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William W. Ashley Jr., Robert C. McKinstry, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Matthew D. Smyth, Benjamin C. Lee and Tae Sung Park

Object

The authors examine the use of rapid-sequence magnetic resonance (rsMR) imaging to make the diagnosis of malfunctioning and/or infected shunts in patients with hydrocephalus. Computerized tomography (CT) scanning is usually used in this context because it rapidly acquires high-quality images, yet it exposes pediatric patients to particularly high levels of radiation. Standard MR imaging requires longer image acquisition time, is associated with movement artifact, and, in children, usually requires sedation. Standard MR imaging provides greater structural resolution, yet visualization of ventricular catheters is relatively poor.

Methods

The authors analyzed a series of 67 rsMR imaging examinations performed without sedation in pediatric patients with hydrocephalus whose mean age was 4 years at the time of the examination. The mean study duration was 22 minutes. Catheter visualization was good or excellent in more than 75% of studies reviewed, and image quality was good or excellent in more than 60% of studies reviewed. The authors analyzed cancer risk with a model used for atomic bomb survivors. Fifty percent of their patients with hydrocephalus had undergone more than four brain imaging studies (CT or MR imaging) in their lifetimes. For the many patients who had undergone more than 15 studies, the total estimated lifetime attributable cancer mortality risk was calculated to be at least 0.35%.

Conclusions

Rapid-sequence MR imaging yields reliable visualization of the ventricular catheter and offers superior anatomical detail while limiting radiation exposure. The authors' protocol is rapid and each image is acquired separately; therefore, motion artifact is reduced and the need for sedation is eliminated. They recommend the use of rsMR imaging for nonemergent evaluation of pediatric hydrocephalus.

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Robert T. Buckley, Weihong Yuan, Francesco T. Mangano, Jannel M. Phillips, Stephanie Powell, Robert C. McKinstry, Akila Rajagopal, Blaise V. Jones, Scott Holland and David D. Limbrick Jr.

The authors report the case of a 25-month-old boy who underwent endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) for hydrocephalus resulting from aqueductal stenosis. The patient's recovery was monitored longitudinally and prospectively using MR diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and formal neuropsychological testing. Despite minimal change in ventricle size, improvement in the DTI characteristics and neurodevelopmental trajectory was observed following ETV. These data support the use of DTI as a biomarker to assess therapeutic response in children undergoing surgical treatment for hydrocephalus. In the patient featured in this report, DTI appeared to provide more information regarding postoperative neurodevelopmental outcome than ventricle size alone.

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Melissa Frei-Jones, Robert C. McKinstry, Arie Perry, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Tae Sung Park and Joshua B. Rubin

Infantile or capillary hemangioma is the most common vascular tumor of childhood. The tumors most frequently affect the head and neck area, but rare cases of intracranial lesions have been reported. Their natural history is marked by initial rapid growth velocity followed by a plateau and, in most cases, subsequent involution. Although the lesions are considered benign, 10% of affected children develop life-threatening complications (mortality rate 20–80% in this subgroup). When surgical intervention or other methods of local control are not possible, therapeutic options are limited. Corticosteroids have been the mainstay of therapy but therapeutic response is not predictable and the infectious risk is not negligible. Interferon α-2a may also be effective but has significant toxicities.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of hemangiomas, and antiangiogenesis agents are being evaluated in the treatment of these tumors. Thalidomide may be an ideal therapy for life-threatening hemangiomas because it inhibits new blood vessel formation by antagonizing both the bFGF and VEGF pathways and has a more acceptable toxicity profile than other agents. The authors present the case of an infant born with a life-threatening, unresectable intracranial hemangioma in which treatment with thalidomide resulted in a good clinical outcome.

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Dustin K. Ragan, Jonathon Cerqua, Tiffany Nash, Robert C. McKinstry, Joshua S. Shimony, Blaise V. Jones, Francesco T. Mangano, Scott K. Holland, Weihong Yuan and David D. Limbrick Jr.

Assessment of ventricular size is essential in clinical management of hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders. At present, ventricular size is assessed using indices derived from the dimensions of the ventricles rather than the actual volumes. In a population of 22 children with congenital hydrocephalus and 22 controls, the authors evaluated the relationship between ventricular volume and linear indices in common use, such as the frontooccipital horn ratio, Evans' index, and the bicaudate index. Ventricular volume was measured on high-resolution anatomical MR images. The frontooccipital horn ratio was found to have a stronger correlation with both absolute and relative ventricular volume than other indices. Further analysis of the brain volumes found that congenital hydrocephalus produced a negligible decrease in the volume of the brain parenchyma.

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Albert M. Isaacs, Joshua S. Shimony, Diego M. Morales, Leandro Castaneyra-Ruiz, Alexis Hartman, Madison Cook, Christopher D. Smyser, Jennifer Strahle, Matthew D. Smyth, Yan Yan, James P. McAllister II, Robert C. McKinstry and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Traditionally, diffusion MRI (dMRI) has been performed in parallel with high-resolution conventional MRI, which requires long scan times and may require sedation or general anesthesia in infants and young children. Conversely, fast brain MRI permits image acquisition without the need for sedation, although its short pulse sequences, susceptibility to motion artifact, and contrast resolution have limited its use to assessing ventricular size or major structural variations. Here, the authors demonstrate the feasibility of leveraging a 3-direction fast brain MRI protocol to obtain reliable dMRI measures.

METHODS

Fast brain MRI with 3-direction dMRI was performed in infants and children before and after hydrocephalus treatment. Regions of interest in the posterior limbs of the internal capsules (PLICs) and the genu of the corpus callosum (gCC) were drawn on diffusion-weighted images, and mean diffusivity (MD) data were extracted. Ventricular size was determined by the frontal occipital horn ratio (FOHR). Differences between and within groups pre- and posttreatment, and FOHR-MD correlations were assessed.

RESULTS

Of 40 patients who met inclusion criteria (median age 27.5 months), 15 (37.5%), 17 (42.5%), and 8 (20.0%) had posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH), congenital hydrocephalus (CH), or no intracranial abnormality (controls), respectively. A hydrocephalus group included both PHH and CH patients. Prior to treatment, the FOHR (p < 0.001) and PLIC MD (p = 0.027) were greater in the hydrocephalus group than in the controls. While the mean gCC MD in the hydrocephalus group (1.10 × 10−3 mm2/sec) was higher than that of the control group (0.98), the difference was not significant (p = 0.135). Following a median follow-up duration of 14 months, decreases in FOHR, PLIC MD, and gCC MD were observed in the hydrocephalus group and were similar to those in the control group (p = 0.107, p = 0.702, and p = 0.169, respectively). There were no correlations identified between FOHR and MDs at either time point.

CONCLUSIONS

The utility of fast brain MRI can be extended beyond anatomical assessments to obtain dMRI measures. A reduction in PLIC and gCC MD to levels similar to those of controls was observed within 14 months following shunt surgery for hydrocephalus in PHH and CH infants. Further studies are required to assess the role of fast brain dMRI for assessing clinical outcomes in pediatric hydrocephalus patients.

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Francesco T. Mangano, Mekibib Altaye, Robert C. McKinstry, Joshua S. Shimony, Stephanie K. Powell, Jannel M. Phillips, Holly Barnard, David D. Limbrick Jr., Scott K. Holland, Blaise V. Jones, Jonathan Dodd, Sarah Simpson, Deanna Mercer, Akila Rajagopal, Sarah Bidwell and Weihong Yuan

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to investigate white matter (WM) structural abnormalities using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in children with hydrocephalus before CSF diversionary surgery (including ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion and endoscopic third ventriculostomy) and during the course of recovery after surgery in association with neuropsychological and behavioral outcome.

METHODS

This prospective study included 54 pediatric patients with congenital hydrocephalus (21 female, 33 male; age range 0.03–194.5 months) who underwent surgery and 64 normal controls (30 female, 34 male; age range 0.30–197.75 months). DTI and neurodevelopmental outcome data were collected once in the control group and 3 times (preoperatively and at 3 and 12 months postoperatively) in the patients with hydrocephalus. DTI measures, including fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) values were extracted from the genu of the corpus callosum (gCC) and the posterior limb of internal capsule (PLIC). Group analysis was performed first cross-sectionally to quantify DTI abnormalities at 3 time points by comparing the data obtained in the hydrocephalus group for each of the 3 time points to data obtained in the controls. Longitudinal comparisons were conducted pairwise between different time points in patients whose data were acquired at multiple time points. Neurodevelopmental data were collected and analyzed using the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Second Edition, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition. Correlation analyses were performed between DTI and behavioral measures.

RESULTS

Significant DTI abnormalities were found in the hydrocephalus patients in both the gCC (lower FA and higher MD, AD, and RD) and the PLIC (higher FA, lower AD and RD) before surgery. The DTI measures in the gCC remained mostly abnormal at 3 and 12 months after surgery. The DTI abnormalities in the PLIC were significant in FA and AD at 3 months after surgery but did not persist when tested at 12 months after surgery. Significant longitudinal DTI changes in the patients with hydrocephalus were found in the gCC when findings at 3 and 12 months after surgery were compared. In the PLIC, trend-level longitudinal changes were observed between preoperative findings and 3-month postoperative findings, as well as between 3- and 12-month postoperative findings. Significant correlation between DTI and developmental outcome was found at all 3 time points. Notably, a significant correlation was found between DTI in the PLIC at 3 months after surgery and developmental outcome at 12 months after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The data showed significant WM abnormality based on DTI in both the gCC and the PLIC in patients with congenital hydrocephalus before surgery, and the abnormalities persisted in both the gCC and the PLIC at 3 months after surgery. The DTI values remained significantly abnormal in the gCC at 12 months after surgery. Longitudinal analysis showed signs of recovery in both WM structures between different time points. Combined with the significant correlation found between DTI and neuropsychological measures, the findings of this study suggest that DTI can serve as a sensitive imaging biomarker for underlying neuroanatomical changes and postsurgical developmental outcome and even as a predictor for future outcomes.